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If an unmarried couple decide to separate then the rules are different to those that apply to married couples or civil partners going through a formal divorce.

For unmarried couples who have separated, their financial arrangements will be worked out by reference to their ownership rights i.e. strictly according to who owns what.  This is in marked contrast to married couples and civil partners where courts have the power to divide all property and assets, in whatever way they think best, regardless of who actually owns them.

If you are separating from your partner you may need to work out what should happen to your financial resources, arrange financial support for children and make arrangements for children on separation

We can assist you with the legal procedures and practicalities that will need to be worked out on the breakdown of your relationship.

Financial Arrangements

There is no general right for either of you to claim financial support from the other, except for the benefit of children. It is not possible to claim against one another’s assets based on ‘entitlement’.  In simple terms each party will be entitled to exit the relationship with what they are deemed to ‘own’.  However determining ownership of assets is not always straightforward.

If the title deeds to property, for example are in the name of one person, the other may still be able to establish a financial interest in the property, either because they expressly agreed something different, or, for example the way they acted in connection with the property suggests that something different was intended.  Similarly if a couple co-own property it is not necessarily always the case that they are entitled to equal shares.

In short, it is best not to make any assumptions and seek expert advice from our family lawyers who specialise in financial provision for cohabiting couples.  We can assist you by providing clear guidance on your legal entitlement; negotiate with your former partner or their solicitor to ensure a fair outcome, if possible without resorting to court proceedings.  If it becomes necessary to apply to court to resolve matters we are very experienced in dealing with applications to court for declaration and enforcement of your legal entitlement to particular property or assets.

Financial Arrangements – Where There Are Children

Please see our dedicated page financial support for children which explains how the law relating to child support operates, (whether you are married or unmarried), including a detailed guide to the CSA.

It is possible to make an application to court for financial support for children, including orders for the transfer or settlement of property for the benefit of children.  This is particularly useful to an unmarried parent with care of a child, where because of the limited financial remedies available to unmarried couples, one party might otherwise be left with inadequate housing arrangements.

A successful application will usually result in either a lump sum to fund the purchase of a property and setting up costs, or the settlement of all or a part of an ex-partner’s share in a property which can be used to accommodate the parent with care and child.  These arrangements can only be made for the benefit of a child.  Usually when a child reaches adulthood or completes full time education, the property or settlement will be given back to the ex-partner. 

In order to consider the options available, both parents will need to provide information about their personal and financial resources, often referred to as financial disclosure.  This can be done voluntarily, or by way of a court process.  How a financial settlement is achieved will vary in each case, from informal negotiations between you and your former partner, negotiations between your solicitors through to a court ordered settlement.  We will advise you about the different options available to resolve matters for you and whether family mediation is suitable.  We take the view that it is preferable to resolve matters through negotiation and agreement, where possible.

We recommend that you come to see us at an early stage for clear guidance from our sympathetic and experienced team to assess your options and work out the best way forward for you.

Arrangements for Children

To understand your legal position in relation to your children, in the event of separation please see our dedicated arrangements for children on separation page.

Why we are different

We understand that your case is unique.   From the very first meeting and throughout your case, we will discuss and agree how we can best support you and protect your interests. 

Whether you need advice to enable you to work out arrangements with your partner directly, or advice during or after family mediation, or whether you require us to conduct negotiations on your behalf or represent you at court, our approach is tailored to best suit your needs.

Our ethos is to resolve issues in a non-confrontational manner where possible, whilst accepting that there are occasions where a more robust approach is necessary to protect your interests.

We will do everything we can to find the financial settlement that works for you and your family in a way that keeps the emotional and financial cost to a minimum.

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For more information, call us today on 0208 882 9850